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« The last shall be … last, again? | Main | 'Who's who?' »

The sin of social elitism

By John Pierce

One of the good, early lessons veteran editors taught me years ago came as a warning against using editorial space to simply jump on a favorite soapbox repeatedly. Such writing should be broader and more constructive than just venting against a pet peeve.

This writing (assuming blogs count too) puts me dangerously close to failing to heed such warnings. For it concerns the one thing I observe almost daily that raises my ire (whatever that is).

It has to do with those who profess to be Christian yet relate to other persons — particularly those they perceive to be “below them” — in condescending and disrespectful ways. It is the sin of social elitism, and in many places it appears almost epidemic.

However, such social behaviors may be unrecognized by those who exhibit them. Their thoughts are elsewhere — focused on their wants (elevated to perceived needs) and their convenience.

The root of the problem is precisely a sole focus on oneself.

Expressions take on various forms: Treating service people disrespectfully — such as demanding rather than asking kindly for something from a server in a restaurant.

Then there is parking in a fire lane at the grocery store or going to the front the carpool line because, well, it’s more convenient than parking and walking, or waiting in line, like others.

At the least, it would nice if those with fish symbols and Christian bumper stickers would remove such from their expensive cars before doing those things. That’s the most ire-raising part.

It hard to imagine any attitude or behavior less like Jesus than to appear or act superior to others. Jesus was the great equalizer — the lover and affirmer of all humanity.

A person’s value in Jesus’ eyes was never tied to race, ethnicity, gender, education, wealth — or whether someone belonged to “the club.” In fact, Jesus got in a lot of hot water with the elitists of his day for seeing and treating persons in the ways he did — and calling out those who saw themselves as superior.

Many, many years ago I was told that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. That, I still believe.

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Reader Comments (2)

I know what ire is, Johnny, and I experience it in ways similar to what you describe. Thank you for not heeding any warning so that you could say these words!

Jan 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRenee Bennett

I am persuaded that the story of Jesus tells of a liberating God who is the inspiration for a non-elitist perspective. I am attracted to the idea that in God’s realm of righteousness there is a ‘reversal’ of the status of the powerful and the lowly. Nevertheless, I am increasingly moved by the ‘outsiders-invited-in’ dimension of the way of Jesus which lays the foundation for subverting the ‘presumed to be fixed’ hierarchical relationships among us all. Our complicity with the power of elitism reminds me that, in Bertolt Brecht’s words, “We, who intended to prepare the soil for friendliness, / Could not ourselves become friendly.” My hope is that we followers of the way of Jesus will increasingly become aware that recognizing the worth of others expands our sense of self.

Jan 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDickWilson

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